Lake Clifton guard Shawnta Rogers was surprised when he checked his locker and realized that he had left his tennis shoes at home an hour before the tip-off of the Lakers' game with visiting Southwestern yesterday. He went home to pick up the shoes and made it back about five minutes before the start of the game.
He was even more surprised when he picked up his fourth personal foul with only about 1:30 elapsed in the second half and the Lakers leading by three points.
But the biggest surprise was Southwestern's inability to take advantage of the situation and Lake Clifton went on to defeat the No. 13 Sabers, 90-80, in a state 4A North region semifinal game.
The Lakers (20-1), ranked No. 13 in this week's USA Today Super 25, will play host to No. 9 Southern-B for the region championship tomorrow afternoon at 3:30.
Rogers finished with 38 points and added seven assists and four steals. Ronald Byrd scored 23 and had five rebounds and four assists. Reginald Johnson led Southwestern (14-9) with 19 points.
Rogers, Byrd and backup guard Jimmy Moore each were in foul trouble for the Lakers as the game was closely officiated. In the last game played at Lake Clifton, against Walbrook on Feb. 17, there was a bench-clearing brawl.
Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore decided to keep Rogers in the game, and Rogers spent the remainder of the game playing loosely on the defensive end.
"We knew that the game would be a little physical and with the incident with Walbrook, a lot of little things would be called," said Rogers. "We just wanted to stay focused on winning and getting closer to Cole Field House."
Meanwhile, Southwestern played uncomfortably on offense. In the third quarter, the Sabers missed seven straight free throws, had three turnovers and trailed 71-61 to start the fourth quarter.
"We turned the ball over and missed some big free throws in the third quarter," said Southwestern coach Terry Leverette, whose team had 12 turnovers and missed 11 free throws in the second half. "The kids played a great game. We could have won the game, but the best team won today. Their desire was greater than ours."
With 2:50 left in the game, Southwestern closed to within 77-74 on a off-balance shot by Evans. A free throw by Byrd and basket by Rogers pushed Lake Clifton's lead to 80-74 with 2:12 to play.
After a layup by Johnson pulled the Sabers to 80-76 with 1:47 left, Rogers converted six free throws and Reggie Frazier's dunk capped an 8-0 run to put the game out of reach.
"We showed our resiliency again today," said Moore, whose team completed a three-game sweep of the Sabers this season. "The officials did a great job calling the game. It was hard playing with Shawnta and Byrd in foul trouble, but we bent and didn't break."